Malvern Theatres Complex
The original building, in Grange Road Malvern, which housed the Malvern Winter Gardens, the Festival Theatre and the Picture House has been largely demolished and rebuilt at great expense. The new structure, from the front, retains much of the appearance of the original building with a much more attractive and useful approach from the road itself. The interior of the Theatre and the Picture House is much as it was but with many improvements. The biggest change has been to the area that was the Pump room and the Ballroom. Both are still spacious and very well appointed, the acoustics of what was the ballroom are now generally reckoned to be superb.
The ballroom, as it will still be known to many locals & visitors, was, in quite recent times, renamed the Elgar Hall. This was in memory of the famous composer who lived and wrote much of his music in the locality. This change was quietly well received by most people and became the accepted name, as a tribute to the great man. Rather sadly, in the writers opinion, the "powers that be" in their wisdom decided after the re-building to rename the Elgar Hall "NEW SPACE"! The Pump-room has had its magnificent pump relegated to a dark corner and the entire building is now to be known as "The Malvem Theatres complex" in spite of only having one dedicated theatre. The name Winter Gardens has been assigned to the dustbin and the Picture House has become a Cinema. All this in a nice old town that likes to trade on its Victorian roots. Probably the most upsetting outcome of the name change is that even after the grand re-opening any discussion seems to be firstly mutual dislike of the name followed by praise for the building. The local newspaper, The Malvern Gazette, has printed numerous letters protesting against the name with very few in favour. Even Lord Yehudi Menuhin, the world famous musician, who was involved in the grand re-opening ceremonies was reported to disapprove of the change of name.
After much pressure the committee responsible for the name change circulated a document which seemed to try to justify the name change. Included was a voting form to be returned to enable an accurate assessment of local feeling. It also asked for other name suggestions. I did not get the feeling that an overwhelming vote would make much difference one way or the other but I sent my form back voting for ELGAR HALL. The organisation was so good that the final return day & date didn't correspond with each other. Having received an apparently large return back, it was reported that the chairman of the board was away on holiday. We then had to wait some six weeks for him to get back and give out the result.
After a much longer wait it was finally announced that in deference to public opinion the name New Space was to be dropped. Before the cheering got too loud the new name was announced to be THE FORUM. Exactly how many people suggested/voted for this name is not clear. Exactly what the connection is between a Victorian town trying to promote itself as such and a Roman market place is also not clear. As a Forum was also used as a meeting place to discuss 'topics of public concern' it seems a particularly unfortunate choice of name. Now, many months later, as far as the writer is aware the officials who have made these decisions on re-naming Elgar Hall have never been available for comment ! Perhaps there should be a FORUM on the subject !